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How We Fall Apart

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Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends--Krystal, Akil, and Alexander--are the prime suspects, thanks to "The Proctor," someone anonymously incriminating them via the school's social media app. They al Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends--Krystal, Akil, and Alexander--are the prime suspects, thanks to "The Proctor," someone anonymously incriminating them via the school's social media app. They all used to be Jamie's closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow The Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy's full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too. Students at an elite prep school are forced to confront their secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead.


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Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends--Krystal, Akil, and Alexander--are the prime suspects, thanks to "The Proctor," someone anonymously incriminating them via the school's social media app. They al Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends--Krystal, Akil, and Alexander--are the prime suspects, thanks to "The Proctor," someone anonymously incriminating them via the school's social media app. They all used to be Jamie's closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow The Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy's full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too. Students at an elite prep school are forced to confront their secrets when their ex-best friend turns up dead.

30 review for How We Fall Apart

  1. 4 out of 5

    Katie Zhao

    I've written 10 novels by now, and this one was by far the most emotionally difficult one, for it forced me to revisit a dark period in my life. This story of high-achieving Asian Americans in a competitive environment reflects many Asian Americans' true experiences. The pressure students feel from their immigrant families to achieve high grades and test scores, and make it into top universities, can become a recipe for stress and misery--and in this fictional story, for secrets, lies, and even I've written 10 novels by now, and this one was by far the most emotionally difficult one, for it forced me to revisit a dark period in my life. This story of high-achieving Asian Americans in a competitive environment reflects many Asian Americans' true experiences. The pressure students feel from their immigrant families to achieve high grades and test scores, and make it into top universities, can become a recipe for stress and misery--and in this fictional story, for secrets, lies, and even murder. With HOW WE FALL APART, I hope to entertain readers with an edge-of-your-seat thriller story that offers an inside look at an Asian American upbringing; but beneath the surface, this story raises questions about the structure of our hyper-competitive school environments, strict upbringings, racial identity, the model minority myth, and the sacrifices we make to maintain the narrative and image of immigrant success--which may or may not be worth it, in the end. Tread carefully, reader, for this is how we fall apart.

  2. 4 out of 5

    jessica

    i would highly suggest checking out what the author wrote here because, after reading this book, i agree with so much of what she says. i think this story does a great job as shedding light on what i am sure is the common pressure many asian american students face. while the vast majority of readers will never be able to identify with the wealth some of these students comes from, their educational environments, racial identities, and emotional struggles are relatable to many. and its this kin i would highly suggest checking out what the author wrote here because, after reading this book, i agree with so much of what she says. i think this story does a great job as shedding light on what i am sure is the common pressure many asian american students face. while the vast majority of readers will never be able to identify with the wealth some of these students comes from, their educational environments, racial identities, and emotional struggles are relatable to many. and its this kind of representation that makes the novel worth reading. and i actually wish this story was a realistic/contemporary fiction because the mystery/murder aspect is surprisingly quite disappointing. dark academia is my all time favourite genre, so im so sad that i couldnt get into that part of the story. and i think its because ive read it before - in ‘pretty little liars,’ in ‘gossip girl,’ in ‘one of us is lying,’ and many other stories. its very recycled material and makes the story feel uninspired. the lack of twists and turns was also a let down for me. regardless, this is a great story in many other ways and worth picking up! ↠ 3.5 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    daph pink ♡

    it's me not the book. My expectations went sky high when this book was announced as a dark academia mystery thriller set in high competitive elite school featuring Asian protagonist. I had all this possible scenarios and aesthetics in my head. I was just so excited. But alas I was disappointed. Starting with characters. Pretty unlikeable and 1d characters in terms of motivation and character development both. My first question was how all of them became friends. We know about Nancy and Jamie but it's me not the book. My expectations went sky high when this book was announced as a dark academia mystery thriller set in high competitive elite school featuring Asian protagonist. I had all this possible scenarios and aesthetics in my head. I was just so excited. But alas I was disappointed. Starting with characters. Pretty unlikeable and 1d characters in terms of motivation and character development both. My first question was how all of them became friends. We know about Nancy and Jamie but how about others Alexander, Akil and Krystal. And the way they dealt with their life changing secrets. "eye roll* everything was very unrealistic and superficial. They all were just stupid calling themselves the smart ones. Nobody could have guessed the ending because no clues were dropped beforehand. It's like the secret is dropped, our MCs get suspension, people whisper about them and then they move on to next plot twist.It was like *bam*, author had to complete the book so take it with one of the most stupid and possible yet boring reasons. It was ridiculous and CLICHE. The writing was okay. Easy to read. More of like for someone beginner who wants to get into the habit of reading and not focus much on wordplay. The topics it was supposed to address were taken in consideration properly. They were just touched upon. As an Asian myself I know how much competition we have to face and how it tampers with our mental health. But this book didn't even explained it properly. Let's speak of THE INCIDENT. I have read like 150+ mystery thriller books so I can pinpoint pretty easily what they might have done. Still I wanted to be amazed but sadly I was true. So summing up it was a pretty short and easy to read book with nothing happening and bunch of stupid kids running here and there hiding the killer.

  4. 4 out of 5

    may ➹

    dark academia murder mystery thriller but make it Asian American..... yeah

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Humphrey

    "Everyone thought Jamie Ruan was perfect. Nobody knew what she was willing to do, how far she was willing to go, to maintain the flawless image she'd crafted." As a human being who was the literal target audience for Gossip Girl back in the day, How We Fall Apart is my jam, and the fact that it is a more diverse and inclusive re-envisioning? I'm not sure how many books this series is slated for, but the fact that we get at least one more story with these characters in this prestigious world has m "Everyone thought Jamie Ruan was perfect. Nobody knew what she was willing to do, how far she was willing to go, to maintain the flawless image she'd crafted." As a human being who was the literal target audience for Gossip Girl back in the day, How We Fall Apart is my jam, and the fact that it is a more diverse and inclusive re-envisioning? I'm not sure how many books this series is slated for, but the fact that we get at least one more story with these characters in this prestigious world has me salivating for a time machine, because take me to next year please. Zhao presents us with a familiar premise: 4 students with secrets are being blackmailed after the death of their friend, the popular, successful queen bee, Jamie Ruan. The story is told from Nancy Luo's POV, with some little snippets of confessions and messages from their school's app called Tip Tap, which is where the anonymous threats are posted publicly. As we follow the narrative, we discover each secret that these 4 are hiding, while also working toward discovering another secret involving the 5 students and another, previous student from the school named Em. Almost all of the questions are answered by the end, except one secret that will set up book two. "Become the best. Or else. Back then, I did not understand what Mama was asking for, what granting her wishes would cost me. Then, I did not know a debt of life could only be repaid with life. With blood. And so I promised, and so I vowed. For family. For everything we sacrificed. I would die trying." One of the major themes in this book, as described by the author, is the pressure that many Asian children feel to overachieve, in an attempt to find their worth for parents who sacrificed everything to give them a better life by moving to America. Also, the disparities shown between the kids at Sinclair Prep who were born into privilege and the ones who were not, regardless of race or culture, are so thought provoking. Yes, this book is an entertaining expose on past mistakes coming back to haunt you, but there's a lot of real meat to the character progression in this book, and some really dark, heavy subjects are touched upon. There were a few times I wanted to throttle Nancy based on her choices regarding a certain someone, and you'll definitely need to suspend your sense of realism for the big reveal, but I thought this was a creative, intuitive YA novel that had me fully engaged from beginning to end. I am anxiously awaiting the follow up novel after that ending! AUTHOR'S NOTE: Please note that this book contains depictions of abuse, self-harm, violence, parental neglect, panic attacks, drug use, mental illness, an inappropriate student/teacher relationship, racism, and suicidal thoughts. I understand these themes may be triggering and would suggest proceeding with caution. *Many thanks to the publisher for my review copy.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Dark academia thriller :One of us lying meets famous Korean tv series Boys Over Flowers vibes with quiet fast pacing and riveting story and damaged, broken characters who did so many mistakes under pressure to survive at the competitive school circle! Aren’t you still sold? The story takes place at Upper West Side , Sinclair Prep, an elite high school that ranked number one in every imaginable university entrance rates, debate championships, number of alumni who went on to become US presidents. Dark academia thriller :One of us lying meets famous Korean tv series Boys Over Flowers vibes with quiet fast pacing and riveting story and damaged, broken characters who did so many mistakes under pressure to survive at the competitive school circle! Aren’t you still sold? The story takes place at Upper West Side , Sinclair Prep, an elite high school that ranked number one in every imaginable university entrance rates, debate championships, number of alumni who went on to become US presidents. Jamie Ruan is top ranked junior, a privileged princess of Sinclair Prep who is a pretty perfectionist student, achieving any goal she’s designated. She can play dirty. She’s merciless against any obstacles on her way. And she always know how to get away with anything and do away with anyone. She could ruin lives with a single whisper to her healthy influential father. But now her reputation is tarnished after her father’s imprisonment because of embezzling. Our narrator Nancy Luo who is a child of immigrants came to pursue their American dream is a daughter of maid, got accepted to the school with full scholarship. She tries too hard to defeat Jamie to be valedictorian for pursuing her own dreams. It’s so obvious she can trade her arms and legs to take place on Jamie’s life. She suffers from inferiority complex, trying so hard to fit with wealthy family’s kids but she also thinks so little about her achievements. Especially her father’s return to China makes feel more abandoned and worthless. Once upon she and her three best friends Akil, Alexander, Krystal were Jamie’s friends but after the incident they’ve been through two years ago and her father’s conviction, they got estranged and now Jamie’s missing. And a secret hacker starts bombarding school network with texts asking them a simple question: Jamie has four former friends . Each friends has a secret. One day Jamie goes missing, which friend is guilty and deserves punishment? A) the one who sunk the lowest to get the highest B)the one who ruined a girl three years ago C)the one hiding a criminal D)the one who traded conscience with grades And a few days later they find the body of Jamie at an empty New York apartment. Authorities think it is murder case. So who killed Jamie Ruan? Instead of her four estranged friends, there are so many lives she’s ruined. So it could be anybody! As you can see both Nancy and her friends keep so dark secrets. None of them is innocent including the victim. And they have to find the Proctor at first who sends those messages unless they want their secrets reveal. Because the things they hold themselves can ruin their entire futures they hardly worked for! It’s a mind blowing, riveting page turner with a little Asian series vibes. The ending was a little far fetched with soap opera vibes. But I liked the final twist and the last conclusion. Overall: it was entertaining mystery reading! I’m rounding up 3.5 stars to whodunnit, dirty little secrets, you can trust no one four stars! Special thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA Children’s Books for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elle

    If you’ve read any YA thrillers that have come out over the past few years, How We Fall Apart will likely seem familiar. There’s a missing student, a group of friends with hidden secrets, the clueless adults surrounding them and a faceless villain using technology to expose and cyberbully their intended targets. It’s a formula that wasn’t ‘invented’ by One of Us Is Lying, but sure appears to have been popularized by it. And why not? The biggest gaps between previous generations and Gen Z circle b If you’ve read any YA thrillers that have come out over the past few years, How We Fall Apart will likely seem familiar. There’s a missing student, a group of friends with hidden secrets, the clueless adults surrounding them and a faceless villain using technology to expose and cyberbully their intended targets. It’s a formula that wasn’t ‘invented’ by One of Us Is Lying, but sure appears to have been popularized by it. And why not? The biggest gaps between previous generations and Gen Z circle back to technology and social media, and even the distance between Zoomers and Millennials seems to be widening in this sense. So, yeah, even though a lot of these synopses are starting to sound the same, I can’t say it isn’t relevant to a modern teenage audience. (I only have one note for authors—repeat after me: NO MORE PLOTS THAT REVOLVE AROUND EVERY STUDENT IN SCHOOL GETTING MASS TEXTS. It is silly and not how texting works. Also it seems more like a 20 or 30-somethings idea of how teenagers communicate. Just like……find a new thing.) But back to the story, I think the more interesting aspects of this book lie in the specific struggles of each of the central characters, including their family wealth, ethnicity, mental health, etc. The plot, while engaging, doesn’t really offer anything groundbreaking within the genre. I wish the characters had been more fleshed-out for this reason, and the text overall felt starved in some places. I’m not sure what the final page count on this is, but my ARC clocked in at about 300 pages, so I know there was definitely space for some more development. The dialogue, to me, seemed on the younger side of YA, a little more juvenile. Which isn’t a swipe at the book or author! I imagine a 15 year-old would enjoy How We Fall Apart more than, say, a 17 or 18 year-old, but it is going to be different for each person. Katie Zhao has previously written middle grade novels so I could see how this would be a natural extension for her now that she’s moving into a slightly older audience. YA books are not going to be written for me, nor should they be as I’m an adult woman. But those couple of years between ages during these formative years really do make a difference at that point in your life. I wasn’t a huge fan of the final ‘reveal’ twist if I am being completely honest, but I am intrigued with the cliffhanger ending. As there’s already a planned sequel, I’m excited to see where the next book picks up after leaving us all metaphorically hanging. There’s still a few pretty big secrets up in the air and I’m expecting that the eventual unfurling of them will finally grant the level of satisfaction that was missing for me in this first installment. *Thanks to Bloomsbury & Netgalley for an advance review copy! **For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!

  8. 5 out of 5

    cossette

    trigger warnings: abuse, self-harm, violence, parental neglect, panic attacks, drug use, mental illness, a student/teacher relationship, racism, suicidal thoughts, murder, blackmail, fire, suicide, death of a friend I had the highest of hopes for How We Fall Apart. After all, a dark academia book with a primarily Asian cast that addressed hyper-competitive school environments, strict upbringings, racial identity, the model minority myth, and immigrant success? Those were things I knew all too wel trigger warnings: abuse, self-harm, violence, parental neglect, panic attacks, drug use, mental illness, a student/teacher relationship, racism, suicidal thoughts, murder, blackmail, fire, suicide, death of a friend I had the highest of hopes for How We Fall Apart. After all, a dark academia book with a primarily Asian cast that addressed hyper-competitive school environments, strict upbringings, racial identity, the model minority myth, and immigrant success? Those were things I knew all too well. I so badly wanted to like this book, but it just fell so flat for me. I’m not sure if my expectations were simply too high, or if I simply couldn’t connect with How We Fall Apart. Pitched as One of Us is Lying meets Crazy Rich Asians, and for fans of Gossip Girl, How We Fall Apart follows Nancy Luo, Akil, Alexander, and Krystal shortly after the disappearance — and murder — of their former best friend, Jamie Ruan. When someone named “The Proctor” starts threatening them and leaking their secrets on the school’s social media app, Tip Tap, the four band together once again to uncover who The Proctor truly is, and before all their secrets are revealed. Prior to her death, Jamie Ruan was the girl everybody wanted to be. Top of her class, and with enough money that nothing could ever touch her — or at least, that’s how it appeared to be. She’s mean, classist, and just straight up cruel, in a way that had me questioning why and how she even had friends. It seemed like everyone was just scared of being on her bad side, but I really was just so confused. In fact, I wrote “how are they best friends when they all hate her?!?!?!” in my notes while reading it. Unfortunately, a lot of Jamie’s behavior seemed to retroactively be addressed by saying she had her own issues, and challenges with her mental health. Which isn’t an excuse — you can have things going on, you can have bad mental health days, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to take it out on the people around you, nor does it give you an excuse to be classist and just awful. I also wasn’t entirely sure how the quintet all became friends in the first place, and would’ve liked more backstory. In all honesty, I found the characters pretty unlikable. I wanted more depth from them, more character development, and we didn’t get any of that. It felt like these life-changing secrets were being dropped, and instead of feeling guilty or any sort of remorse about what had happened, they were more concerned about how this would affect their reputation and the way they were perceived. These secrets also just didn’t really make sense? I was surprised at how quickly these bombshells were dropped, and then everyone just moved on past it, despite the gravity of these secrets. I really had to suspend a lot of disbelief to keep reading. Speaking of things I had to suspend disbelief for, I was really shocked that all four characters, who weren’t really friends anymore, could rejoin and reunite so quickly. But even more so, I was shocked that all four characters, who came from varying classes and cultures, would all respond to being accused of murder in the same way. How We Fall Apart fell flat for me in many ways, but the most disappointing one was the lack of nuance. Everything felt very superficial, particularly the topics I looked forward to the most: the discussions of the model minority myth, the myth of the American dream, the discussions of mental health… everything. As someone who also went to an incredibly competitive high school, I’m all too familiar with how that affects your mental health, and how that intersects within Asian immigrant culture. Had the characters (particularly the adults) in How We Fall Apart acknowledged their role in this, or even the school, I might’ve enjoyed this book more. I think the best mystery-thrillers are ones that drop little clues here and there along the way, and then when the big reveal is done, you go: “why didn’t I see that all along?” or the ones that you figure out just before the characters do. Sadly, I found How We Fall Apart a little too predictable in that aspect, so I wasn’t shocked when the big reveal happened. Although, I do question if How We Fall Apart is supposed to be marketed as a dark academia mystery-thriller, or something else altogether. For what it’s worth, How We Fall Apart is a fast-paced and short read, and I did resonate with some of the quotes. I was pretty disappointed with the ending, until the very last page, when it does leave on a cliffhanger, and makes room for a potential sequel — which alone, gives it an extra ½ star. find the full review & others on my blog 🤍

  9. 5 out of 5

    ✨ jami ✨

    hi, you know how the other day we were all talking about how much we LOVE dark academia books?? yes hi, can I present to you this book that is about a murder at an elite boarding school in Manhattan (2021 come .. faster)

  10. 4 out of 5

    gauri

    2.5 stars there's nothing worse than a thriller which is not thrilling in the slightest. i had high hopes for how we fall apart. while this book is what it promises us, dark academia with an asian-american cast, it fell flat. its not the best thriller out there but its pretty fast paced which was the only reason why i liked it. i did not feel the curiosity of finding the person behind it all as i should've been. otherwise, all the characters felt superficial and unlikeable. i really really wish th 2.5 stars there's nothing worse than a thriller which is not thrilling in the slightest. i had high hopes for how we fall apart. while this book is what it promises us, dark academia with an asian-american cast, it fell flat. its not the best thriller out there but its pretty fast paced which was the only reason why i liked it. i did not feel the curiosity of finding the person behind it all as i should've been. otherwise, all the characters felt superficial and unlikeable. i really really wish they would've been more developed or had more of a backstory. not kidding when i say the gossip girl/pll vibes are deep rooted. most scenarios seemed ridiculous. i did find the whole mystery part predictable and the cause of jamie's death was way too simple. i was looking forward to this mainly because i thought it would discuss the problems of immigrants, asian immigrants at that, but the struggles were only mentioned throughout and again lacked depth. i understand the pressure asian parents put on children, so nancy's constant need to not disappoint them felt somewhat real. uhh i feel like the ending was done like that just to make this a duology but anyway, i'm awaiting it to see what more clownery happens in sinclair prep. thank you bloomsbury and netgalley for the arc

  11. 4 out of 5

    ApoorvaReads

    1.75 or 2 stars ⭐️ ”Everyone wanted to hear success stories about those who came from nothing, working hard to become something extraordinary. Nobody would want to know the gritty, unpleasant details about what it took—what it really took—to get there.” I don’t think I’ve learnt anything. I always try to go into a book with low expectations but there was just something about this book’s cover or it’s genre which sounded right up my alley that made me feel like “omg apoorva this is when your st 1.75 or 2 stars ⭐️ ”Everyone wanted to hear success stories about those who came from nothing, working hard to become something extraordinary. Nobody would want to know the gritty, unpleasant details about what it took—what it really took—to get there.” I don’t think I’ve learnt anything. I always try to go into a book with low expectations but there was just something about this book’s cover or it’s genre which sounded right up my alley that made me feel like “omg apoorva this is when your stars align and give you a great book” but alas everything went to shit. “Nothing in life is fair. But that’s why you have to work your hardest when the other kids are playing. You have less than them, which means you must be better than them. You must work ten times as hard as your classmates to have what they have. Remember that, Nancy. You are not weak.” This review is gonna be short and to the point since I’m still healing from the chaotic mess this book was. The more i think about it, the more irritated i get. There were more things I hated and I can’t help but find only one thing which did work for me which was just the fast pace this book had which made me happy cause i didn’t have to deal with this mess for long. Negatives- ~ The Characters and the plot If anyone knows me well I would rather choose a book with good characters bad plot than a good book with bad characters but alas this book had neither. I couldn’t feel anything for these characters (besides Alexander- i did like him but he couldn’t save the book for me sorry) and the not liking the characters made me give no shit about what happened to them. I was legit at a stage in the book where I was praying to god that they all died so atleast I could leave the book with a good feeling lol. The plot wasn’t something “good” just “indifferent”. I don’t think i would even call this a dark academia cause wtf🤡 the mystery aspect wasn’t really even mystery or maybe its only me cause read too much mystery and I wasn’t really shocked when the big reveal happened. Ngl, it was underwhelming😭 ~ The rich school thingie Since i lost one of my two braincells because of this book, you’ll have to deal with my weird ass expressions. Anyways, Richard Sinclair Preparatory School, or Sinclair Prep is one of most prestigious schools and only high-class people and very intelligent kids get admission in there. BUT trust me, the 4 friends were pretty dumb to be called “intelligent” or even get admission it and to think that the main protagonist was a scholarship student like girllll whaaa💀 long story short - everyone was stupid even the headmaster of the school and though i would appreciate their stupidity cause it reminds me im not the only one dumb I didn’t like it in the book. AT ALL. I sometimes really wondered if the school was really one of the most prestigious schools ever or did anyone change the meaning of “intelligent” from “having or showing the ability to understand, learn and think” to “stupid”. ~ Empathy If I’m right the author wanted us to feel sad about how the kids were under-pressure and how they were doin everything they could do to just succeed and make their parents proud and I did empathise with them but then this fucking happened- “Haven’t you ever wondered what it’d be like to—to disappear?” Jamie gripped my arm like a drowning man to a lifeboat. “Am I—Am I weak for having those thoughts, sometimes?”[……] Less than twenty-four hours before our next SAT practice test, only six weeks until the real thing in March, and here she was distracting me from my studies. Mama might even say Jamie was being pathetic for not being able to handle this school and all its demands. And I didn’t have time for this. Didn’t have time to entertain the whimsies of rich kids who had more than me, always had more than me, even if they didn’t graduate at the top of the class..” I’m sorry but DO U REALLY EXPECT ME TO FEEL SOMETHING OTHER THAN WANTING TO KILL THE PROTAGONIST?! Your friend straight on tells you the she wonders what it would be like to die or disappear but you go on and actually be like “ omg when is she gonna shut up, i want to study and you’re rich you dont have any problems” 🤡🤡💀💀💀 sorry but all i feel is hatred and severe serial killer tendencies cause nothing would ever bring me so much joy than killing her at that moment. I hated how all Nancy (the main protagonist) did was cry over money issues and be jealous of kids who had money instead of being proud that she had got a scholarship but nah she had to cry over everything. I didn’t even feel anything for the dead girl cause honestly she was nothing better too. I do feel bad for her cause if it was for me I would’ve killed off everyone and not only her cause everyone deserved to die:) In short words- the only strong feeling i felt towards this book was the feeling to kill every single character (besides bb Alex) 😌😌 “Maybe then Mama would finally be proud of me. For that, I would do anything. Anything at all. I dug my nails deeper and deeper. I didn’t stop. I didn’t stop until they drew blood, the droplets welling from where nails pierced skin. Later, those open wounds would turn into scars. Into a promise. Into a blood oath.” Ahh, what i would do to suffer amnesia and forget this book ever existed🥵 there’s nothing more sexy than wanting your most anticipated release of the year to never exist💃🏼🤩 Overall, this book was a HUGE disappointment and honestly i wouldnt recommend it to anyone but if you want to find out if you do have a killer side, i think this is the best book to check😌

  12. 5 out of 5

    hiba

    the only good thing about this book is that it was over soon. i really believe dark academia is the perfect genre for asians with the hyper-competitiveness and severe upbringing that often define our academic lives. how we fall apart promised to explore this theme along with elitism, classism, the elusiveness of the american dream, immigrant success, parental pressure, and the model minority myth for asian americans - but sadly in doing so, it kind of fell apart. every single thing about this nov the only good thing about this book is that it was over soon. i really believe dark academia is the perfect genre for asians with the hyper-competitiveness and severe upbringing that often define our academic lives. how we fall apart promised to explore this theme along with elitism, classism, the elusiveness of the american dream, immigrant success, parental pressure, and the model minority myth for asian americans - but sadly in doing so, it kind of fell apart. every single thing about this novel is just so painfully shallow. the themes were certainly present but only touched upon - the author never bothered to give them the attention and nuance they deserved. the characters were all one-dimensional, boring, and passive. the relationships were superficial with no emotional depth whatsoever - i have no idea why these kids were friends or what they liked about each other. the writing was laughably dramatic and just plain cringeworthy at times. the mystery/thriller plot was so poorly handled. we have this mysterious anon who wants to destroy our main characters' lives by exposing their deepest, darkest secrets to the whole school - but these secrets didn't really have any serious consequences (and were a bit tame for a thriller plot to be honest). at the most, the kids get suspended or have whispers thrown around about them but that's literally it, their lives are hardly ruined. and once a secret got dropped, the plot simply moved along so that by the end, nobody really cared. the big reveal about who caused jamie's death was absolutely ridiculous - there are limits to how much disbelief i can suspend. also, i'm really tired of seeing mental illness/depression being used in a dramatic twisty kind of way in such thriller stories instead of actually being explored with care. overall, this was a disappointing and forgettable read for me - but it's possible someone going in with zero expectations might enjoy it. personally, i'll be giving the sequel a pass. cws: mention of parental abuse, mention of self-harm, parental abandonment, drug use, racism, suicidal thoughts, murder, suicide rep: asian-american main cast, sapphic side characters

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ellie (faerieontheshelf)

    okay right august 2021 and august 2022: dark academia season baybeeee

  14. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    want want want want want want want want

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked)

    Crazy Rich Asians + One of Us Is Lying = a need, not a want The way I'm about to simp to try to get an arc right now LOL Crazy Rich Asians + One of Us Is Lying = a need, not a want The way I'm about to simp to try to get an arc right now LOL

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    I WANT THIS TOO

  17. 4 out of 5

    cherelle (aboltoutofthebook)

    bleugh. dnf i can't take the writing style and i'm bored. :( very disappointed as i was enthralled by the notion of a dark academia mystery with asian kids! perhaps i'll try again in future. let me know if its worth pushing on! bleugh. dnf i can't take the writing style and i'm bored. :( very disappointed as i was enthralled by the notion of a dark academia mystery with asian kids! perhaps i'll try again in future. let me know if its worth pushing on!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay (pawsomereads)

    Dark academia murder mystery thriller, need I say more? As soon as I heard this book was pitched as Crazy Rich Asians meets One of Us is Lying, I was totally sold. I definitely got some Pretty Little Liars vibes as well so if any of those are favorites of yours, you’ll definitely enjoy this book! How We Fall Apart follows Nancy Luo, a top student at her cut-throat elite private high school, Sinclair Prep, where students are consistently pushed to their breaking points to achieve academic excellen Dark academia murder mystery thriller, need I say more? As soon as I heard this book was pitched as Crazy Rich Asians meets One of Us is Lying, I was totally sold. I definitely got some Pretty Little Liars vibes as well so if any of those are favorites of yours, you’ll definitely enjoy this book! How We Fall Apart follows Nancy Luo, a top student at her cut-throat elite private high school, Sinclair Prep, where students are consistently pushed to their breaking points to achieve academic excellence. When the valedictorian and her former best friend Jamie Ruan is murdered, Nancy and her three best friends are thrown into the spotlight as prime suspects and they must fight to keep their secrets buried and prove their innocence. This was a really fast read and I felt like I was dropped right into the story which I really enjoyed. The action started up quickly and I loved the fast-paced nature of it. The story was told through a mix of present day chapter and flashbacks to the past that helped to provide a better sense of the main group of characters and their interactions. There were a lot of important discussions about family dynamics, friendships and expectations. While the book focused mainly on the mystery, I felt like it also gave a lot of insight into American Asian culture and described the hopes of immigrants wanting a better life for their kids. I 100% did not see the twist coming and I didn’t guess the murderer correctly at all. I’m super curious to see what happens with this series and I can’t wait for everyone else to get to read this book! Thank you so much to Bloomsbury YA for sending an ARC my way ❤️

  19. 4 out of 5

    rish

    ★★★ ½ ☆ // 3.5 s t a r s My Book Blog — Apollo Approved Thank you Bloomsbury USA Children's Books for sending me an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! Reveiw I have one thing to say. And that is: Mass texting an entire school is not a thing. Why does it feel like so many mystery plotlines revolve around that? I just sit there like, "This literally cannot happen." And even if it could, how the hell would they all have this person's contact saved. Like literal bruh. Okay, so this book ★★★ ½ ☆ // 3.5 s t a r s My Book Blog — Apollo Approved Thank you Bloomsbury USA Children's Books for sending me an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review! Reveiw I have one thing to say. And that is: Mass texting an entire school is not a thing. Why does it feel like so many mystery plotlines revolve around that? I just sit there like, "This literally cannot happen." And even if it could, how the hell would they all have this person's contact saved. Like literal bruh. Okay, so this book basically follows a group of four high school juniors who are pretty much trying to prove their innocence in the death of their former friend. Sound familiar? Wonder why…*cough One Of Us Is Lying cough*. Anyway, as is expected, all these main characters have their fair share of secrets, some of which are just slightly over dramatic and more than a little unbelievable. I won't say them here because spoilers (I wonder if there's a way to hide spoilers on here like on Goodreads…), but let's just say Krystal? Probably could've dialed that down. I definitely think some of the more interesting parts of the book came in the form of the struggles the main characters faced. For example, Nancy and how she's a scholarship student at a private high school full of rich kids (sans Alexander). Also, factor in that she's Asian American and the book really highlights pressures students experience against these barriers. The plot. It was so dramatic that it was like GIVE ME MORE, but at the same time it was so extra that in the back of your mind you're always going, "really?" The dialogue. You could almost explicitly tell that it was meant for almost younger young adults, I guess. I'm sure a twelve-year-old could read this and enjoy it maybe more than a fifteen-year-old could. That's mostly because when the characters end up being the same age as you, you almost expect them to act and do exactly as you do, and when they do anything remotely juvenile-esque you're like okay maybe this isn't for me? Also, the book was fairly short, only about 350 pages. Which left much to be desired. Especially regarding the suspense, I definitely could've used more. This had a severe case of, "Oh, your classmate was murdered? Well, okay. Get to class!" Hopefully that will get better in the next installment, and hopefully at least one or two characters will become more attachment worthy. Especially because Anon doesn't count. Finally, the finale. The reveal was…meh. As soon as just about anyone starts this they'll dwindle from two to one options as to who the mysterious "Proctor" is, and almost everyone is going to guess right. That being said, the way the reveal went down was slightly surprising because we didn't really get any hints as to it being that way, but maybe that just adds to the intrigue. I'm sure if a reread happened, I'd find little tidbits that would be utter eye-openers. ❝ Everyone thought Jamie Ruan was perfect. Nobody knew what she was willing to do, how far she was willing to go, to maintain the flawless image she'd crafted. ❞ All in all, How We Fall Apart was a pretty good mystery with a group of students out to clear their names, face secrets being revealed along the way, and full of over-the-top drama. No stress because the cliffhanger wasn't huge, but there are more secrets to be unveiled… Read…If You Liked…

  20. 4 out of 5

    jut

    this book has been done before...by it i mean this plot isn't revolutionary and i've read it before in a lot of books that did much better! and i was kinda expecting something good out of it because it had a mysterious promising premise and i'm a simp for it but the thrilling isn't all that and the big plot twist is already obvious when the truth is revealed, which is a turn off for me... this book has been done before...by it i mean this plot isn't revolutionary and i've read it before in a lot of books that did much better! and i was kinda expecting something good out of it because it had a mysterious promising premise and i'm a simp for it but the thrilling isn't all that and the big plot twist is already obvious when the truth is revealed, which is a turn off for me...

  21. 4 out of 5

    lily ✿

    i entered this book with high expectations: it had a brilliant cover and title, which caught my eye and caused me to add it to my pile of library books to begin with. the blurb promised asian-american dark academia, and i hoped it would be a more diverse version of ‘one of us is lying.’ unfortunately, i left this book disappointed. the writing itself was mediocre. the same themes and sentences were repeated throughout the entire book: that the main character, nancy, is poor - she was able to join i entered this book with high expectations: it had a brilliant cover and title, which caught my eye and caused me to add it to my pile of library books to begin with. the blurb promised asian-american dark academia, and i hoped it would be a more diverse version of ‘one of us is lying.’ unfortunately, i left this book disappointed. the writing itself was mediocre. the same themes and sentences were repeated throughout the entire book: that the main character, nancy, is poor - she was able to join the country’s most competitive high school through scholarship - but she consistently felt like she could never measure up to her rich friends, like they were always talking about her behind her back because she was not made of money. her parents expected her, and pushed her, to get good grades - the highest in the class. however, everyone else’s parents expected much of the same of their children, creating and fostering an air of competition, where the chances of betrayal and bribery were high. her best friend, jamie, is the most popular and successful girl in school, who has a bad habit of using her money and influence to maintain this position, and who throws fits when things don’t go her way. she won’t let anything, or anyone, get in the way of what she wants, and she also has a mean streak - although nancy and jamie are best friends, they certainly give off a vibe that is closer to frenemies. then, jamie turns up dead, and her entire group of friends, nancy included, are on the suspects list. the characters themselves felt flat, built entirely on stereotypes. yes, they exist for a reason - many asian american parents do push their children to succeed academically. however, every single character in this book lived this reality, and their entire personalities were built off of this. other than some additional daddy issues, for the most part, this was all we really knew of them. at worst, they could also be irritating at times. the main character’s love interest comes off more as a manipulative predator, several years older than her and insisting that they keep their relationship a secret, and no matter how many times she realizes that he isn’t as into and devoted to her as she is to him, she always goes back to him, blindly believing that somehow he has changed. it had the potential to touch upon an important and sensitive topic - how academic pressure is directly related to mental health, particularly depression and anxiety. unfortunately, i felt like it fell flat in this aspect, as well. one panic attack is mentioned, but as someone who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, i felt like it was dramatic and unrealistic. the character drops to the ground and seizes, and somehow everyone knows that this is a panic attack. when reading it, i honestly thought he was having a seizure. additionally, while depression and suicidal thoughts are touched upon, none of the characters are given the help that they truly need, and instead are met with hostility when they dare to open up. from their friends !! the mystery aspect itself is what kept me hanging in there, but it committed the fallacy that happens all too often in the genre - yes, the ending was a plot twist, but one that the reader never could’ve seen coming. there were no clues leading up to it, no foreshadowing. it felt unrealistic and therefore disappointing. worst of all, the book was left off on a cliffhanger - one last secret we’ll never get to know, because this is actually the first book in a series. i dragged myself through this book and left with little to no connections to the characters, so i suppose i’m okay with simply never knowing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    kimberly ☆

    thank you so much bloomsbury for this arc! 3.5/5 stars from me let’s start this off by saying, i had very high hopes for this book and it was kind of underwhelming. i feel as if some characters could’ve been more developed as well as some relationships, like alexander and nancy’s. i feel as if the last 10% of the book was awkwardly paced, but regardless of that it was still an enjoyable read. when you find out who did it, i promise you would’ve never guessed. it almost reminds me of pretty little thank you so much bloomsbury for this arc! 3.5/5 stars from me let’s start this off by saying, i had very high hopes for this book and it was kind of underwhelming. i feel as if some characters could’ve been more developed as well as some relationships, like alexander and nancy’s. i feel as if the last 10% of the book was awkwardly paced, but regardless of that it was still an enjoyable read. when you find out who did it, i promise you would’ve never guessed. it almost reminds me of pretty little liars and how we found out who A was, like it was very unpredictable so i’ll give the book that. i kind of loved it though, because it involved a villain speech and i love a good villain speech. through and through the story was interesting enough and for that i’m happy.

  23. 5 out of 5

    jenny✨

    Deep-dive into Asian American issues via murder mystery at an elite prep school?????? Deep-dive into Asian American issues via murder mystery at an elite prep school??????

  24. 4 out of 5

    Anniek

    This was a 5 star prediction for me and one of my most anticipated releases of the year, but I feel like I have a tendency to overhype dark academia for myself because if it's done well, it's all time fave material. This was by no means a bad book, but it's also not new fave material for me. All in all, I feel a little underwhelmed. In a dark academia thriller, I want psychological depth and suspense, and we kind of get neither here. I don't feel like I got to know the characters that well at all This was a 5 star prediction for me and one of my most anticipated releases of the year, but I feel like I have a tendency to overhype dark academia for myself because if it's done well, it's all time fave material. This was by no means a bad book, but it's also not new fave material for me. All in all, I feel a little underwhelmed. In a dark academia thriller, I want psychological depth and suspense, and we kind of get neither here. I don't feel like I got to know the characters that well at all, even Nancy, who's the main character. Since they're friends, I wanted to see the bonds between them explored, but that didn't really happen either. We get told they're friends but it doesn't really show. Overall, I did find this book enjoyable, and hard to put down. But it wasn't nearly as exciting as I was hoping it would be.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lance

    2.5 stars. While having a promising premise and an interesting if not compelling protagonist, How We Fall Apart just isn’t the thrilling and twisty dark academia story that I wanted it to be.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Athenaa

    OH MY GOD, THE COVER IS GORGEOUS. I CAN'T WAIT TO READ IT. OH MY GOD, THE COVER IS GORGEOUS. I CAN'T WAIT TO READ IT.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alina

    When i read “One of Us is Lying meets…”I only thought this book would have a similar concept. You know, high school student is murdered.. But no, i was fooled. This book is One of us is Lying, just with an Asian-American cast. One really outstanding student dies, four students are the suspects, the school makes less sense than aliens possessing my cat to memorise my mother’s good recipes, the plot twist is the worst thing to exist, the characters -including the dead one- are stupid. i could go on When i read “One of Us is Lying meets…”I only thought this book would have a similar concept. You know, high school student is murdered.. But no, i was fooled. This book is One of us is Lying, just with an Asian-American cast. One really outstanding student dies, four students are the suspects, the school makes less sense than aliens possessing my cat to memorise my mother’s good recipes, the plot twist is the worst thing to exist, the characters -including the dead one- are stupid. i could go on and on, but this is enough for this review. I’d like to add here from the start, I do respect the author, Katie Zhao, for her efforts. Writing a book is hard. Pleasing everyone who reads it, even harder. But this, this was not it. She is soooo sweet and as a person seems like an amazing human being, but the book is not even a mile close to my expectations, which were not that high, by the way. I loved the message she tried to give. Most Asian-American students are under the pressure of being the top student of the school and getting accepted into the Ivy League schools, you know. But in my opinion, this was nowhere near the message. The only factor I liked was non-fetishized, unconventional and morally gray Asian characters. I loved how terrible they were.. Back to the review. So here’s the plot: Nancy Luo is shocked when her former best friend, Jamie Ruan, top-ranked junior at Sinclair Prep, goes missing, and then is found dead. Nancy is even more shocked when word starts to spread that she and her friends--Krystal, Akil, and Alexander--are the prime suspects, thanks to "the Proctor," someone anonymously incriminating them via the school's social media app. They all used to be Jamie's closest friends, and she knew each of their deepest, darkest secrets. Now, somehow the Proctor knows them, too. The four must uncover the true killer before The Proctor exposes more than they can bear and costs them more than they can afford, like Nancy's full scholarship. Soon, Nancy suspects that her friends may be keeping secrets from her, too. THE INCIDENT this is what the friends group calls this event that they all tried to forget. This, is supposedly their biggest secret. But trust me, the FIRST TIME I READ THE TWO WORDS, I knew what they had done. It is that predictable. So, so unoriginal. And in the writing, the author tried to get the readers to be curious about this, but nope. It made it even worse for me. The school is like a cult. The headmaster is a douche bag, though i believe in some parts, he was right. The whole school keeps saying this sentence like a prayer: “In inceptum finis est” I think the author thought that this sentence would be cool and mysterious. However, it pissed me off. So much that, if i see this sentence anywhere again, my eyes will start bleeding. The students are all stupid. All of them. Even the dead one. To be honest, this novel is no mystery. Or at least, it wouldn’t have been if the characters had some common sense. I cannot believe these are all “smart” students that get the best grades. I have so many problems with the main character. She is dumb, hates herself and everyone else even though she won’t admit it, thinks all the students hate her because she won full scholarship to the top high school in the country. She cannot even realise how lucky and good she is to get this chance. Maybe, like me, she cannot yet figure out why and how she won the scholarship. I’m starting to think Jamie (the dead one) forced her Daddy to pay for our main girl Nancy and made it look like a scholarship. Not impossible! School gossip apps. Please, my fellow authors. Please stop making up gossip apps as a good way of writing confessions and spilling secrets. This is literally not a thing you can keep reusing, because it gets boring. At this point, I can assure you all that these authors are just incompetent in creativity. Let’s come to the plot twist. Do not worry, there are no spoilers. The plot twist of this book is so, so bad that it might actually give you a stroke. For me, it was brain ache. No, not headache because my brain cells really committed it after reading that “twist”. As this book is so predictable, I had two guesses that I was sure would play out. However, they did not because the plot twist was a lot more stupider than I could ever imagine. I can tell that the author thought really hard for something no one could predict, but at this point, she created a really dumb answer. The answer, though, felt too much like those bad horror movies, where the explanation to every suspicious thing is “it was a nightmare/hallucination/thought.” Or even worse, “everyone is dead now so lets just wrap this up by saying whatever we come up with to satisfy ourselves.” The writing was really bland. I liked the fast pace, but I think it just seems like it because of how empty the plot is. I could guess the full sentences after reading their first word. Some excitement or thrill was hoped to be given by naming chapters “fifteen minutes left” “five minutes left” “two minutes left” if my cat sat on my keyboard, she would have written a much better ending. I felt nothing reading this book, if I do not count the pain, boredom and rage to myself for wasting my time with this. I did not and do not care for the characters, the sequel, what happens next. Actually, if I could, I would erase my memory of this day, wasted on this. Also, wtf is Proctor? Zhao really sat down and wrote at least three drafts with thousands of words in them, but couldn’t nae the killer something better? Please- If i were a high school student AND killer wasting energy on five other stinky high schoolers, I would at least pick a better name. Maybe it was intentional, i really do not know. To sum it all up, this book is like One of Us is Lying, and therefore, if it were food, it would be the three-days-old unsuccessful meal you forgot in the fridge but microwaved because there is nothing else to eat, with the hopes it did not create a whole new living race of bacteria in it. And guess what, you sit down to eat it and it taste really bad. If you liked the book mentioned, you will for sure like this too. If you did not, please stay away. You are probably too young to feel this bad.

  28. 5 out of 5

    casandra

    This book reminded me of every single thing I hate about YA, and put each of those traits under a shining light to form a novel. The author wasn't lying when they said the plotline is heavily influenced by teenage shows like Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl etc. However, instead of creating a good spin on these shows' concepts, it really just erased any originality this story has to offer. If you've seen Pretty Little Liars or know the gist of it, you will inevitably guess how this book is gonna This book reminded me of every single thing I hate about YA, and put each of those traits under a shining light to form a novel. The author wasn't lying when they said the plotline is heavily influenced by teenage shows like Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girl etc. However, instead of creating a good spin on these shows' concepts, it really just erased any originality this story has to offer. If you've seen Pretty Little Liars or know the gist of it, you will inevitably guess how this book is gonna play out. It was predictable, simple as that. Writing's not that great or revolutionary. Too literal, too on the nose. There's no wordplay or anything that will pull you into the story, it's like reading a newspaper. The only interesting character in here is the dead girl, and the others just fell flat. Honestly, the reason the plot is a mystery is because the main characters are so dumb and can't figure anything out even when it's literally right in their faces. It's so ironic that they're supposed to be the top students at their prestigious school too. Climax is underwhelming since it's cliche, and the twist borders on absurd. As for the representation, I'm not really inclined to criticize/comment on it. I am Asian, and I know firsthand how much pressure that relatives tend to put on one's shoulder especially your own parents regarding your academic achievements, but I'm not an immigrant in the states so I can't possibly know their struggles. Some positives: few quotes/passages that I can count in my hand resonated within me as an asian college student, and I slightly liked the "romance" on the side since it's one of my favorite tropes. Toxic, yes, but that's just how I like my ships. It seems this is going to be a series based on that open ending and in retrospect, I'm not really interested in continuing this, but maybe we'll see in the future. ARC provided by Bloomsbury YA (Macmillan) through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Park Fatima Wani

    "I'll compose the song, and You'll write the lyrics" OMG, this was such such a fast paced and a light read(so different from what I expected) I was so excited for this after reading the synopsis, and thank God it did not disappoint me at all. Except the characters and the character development I enjoyed everything. From good plot to great writing, everything was delightful. If you're looking for a mys-thriller but are not in for something depressing, I highly recommend it. "I'll compose the song, and You'll write the lyrics" OMG, this was such such a fast paced and a light read(so different from what I expected) I was so excited for this after reading the synopsis, and thank God it did not disappoint me at all. Except the characters and the character development I enjoyed everything. From good plot to great writing, everything was delightful. If you're looking for a mys-thriller but are not in for something depressing, I highly recommend it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    shan

    i'm so upset because this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and i thought i would love it, but sadly, i didn't. it fell really flat for me, and personally i thought the characters were too one-dimensional and the mystery not compelling at all. i'm so upset because this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and i thought i would love it, but sadly, i didn't. it fell really flat for me, and personally i thought the characters were too one-dimensional and the mystery not compelling at all.

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